Study identifies issues keeping women from becoming truck drivers

Updated Jul 10, 2024
Woman next to tractor-trailer

A new study by an industry research organization provides some insights into this persistent question: "Why aren't there more women who are professional truck drivers?"

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released new research identifying approaches to increase the number of women truck drivers entering and staying in the industry. After quantifying six key challenge areas facing women truck drivers, the research lays out an action plan for the industry – with discrete steps for motor carriers, truck driver training schools and truck drivers – all designed to make trucking careers more attractive to women.

Those six challenges include:

  • Problem: Negative industry image and perception Issues: Inequitable social norms. Misuse of social media. Lack of younger drivers and aging workforce
  • Problem: Unable to complete truck driver training. Issues: Inability to pay for training. Lack of driving skills, ability, or knowledge. No or limited access to childcare. Excessive travel to and from school
  • Problem: Unsatisfactory motor carrier company culture Issues: Unclear and inconsistent communication with drivers. Absence of recognition and appreciation initiatives.
  • Problem: Inability to acclimate to the OTR driver lifestyle Issues: Insufficient home-time. Inability to establish and sustain healthy habits.
  • Problem: Limited parking and restroom facility access. Issues: Shortage of available safe parking. Lack of clean restrooms.
  • Problem: Excessive gender harassment and discrimination Issues: Discrimination during training. Concern over personal safety

ATRI said in a statement that this research was identified by its Research Advisory Committee in March of 2023 as a top priority to help further understand the challenges women drivers encounter. The research includes specific strategies the industry can implement to increase the relatively small number of women in trucking. 

ATRI’s research included input from thousands of truck drivers, motor carriers and truck driver training schools through surveys, interviews and a women driver focus group to identify the underlying factors that generate challenges, as well as strategies for navigating and overcoming these barriers to success for women drivers.

“ATRI’s research gives a voice to the thousands of women truck drivers who have found successful and satisfying careers in this industry and encouragement to other women to consider truck driving jobs,” said Emily Plummer, professional driver for Prime Inc. and one of the America’s Road Team Captains. 

The research found that women are drawn to driving careers for the income potential, highlighting the fact that pay parity for women and men is much more prevalent in the trucking industry than in other fields, according to ATRI.

The analysis also found that carriers that implement women-specific recruiting and retention initiatives have a higher percentage of women drivers (8.1%) than those without (5%). The report details how fleets can put such initiatives in place.

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“This report provides an important roadmap for the industry to increase the number of women drivers,” said Joyce Brenny, Brenny Transportation President and CEO. “We have found tremendous success and improved safety with our women drivers and believe others who utilize this research will also experience success.”

A full copy of the report is available on ATRI’s website here